Why do Kukis want separate government in three districts of Manipur? Such is the history of demand for Cookieland
Peace has still not been completely restored in Manipur. Amidst the sporadic news coming every few days, the Indigenous Tribal Leaders Forum, the largest organization of the Kuki-Jo community there, has announced self-rule i.e. independent running of administration in those three districts where the people of the Kuki-Jo community are in majority. Are. These three districts are Churachandpur, Kangpokpi and Tangnaupol.
For this, ITLF has given an ultimatum of two weeks to the Government of India. The tribal organization believes that the Indian government does not seem serious about their demands. The self-rule that he is talking about involves implementing his own chief minister and government officials of his own community. Tribal Forum says that Manipur’s N Biren government will not interfere in these three states.
The people of Kuki-Jo community are now adamant on parallel administration but their demand for Kukiland is very old. What is this old demand of theirs? What is the population of Meitei and Kuki communities in Manipur and what is their representation in comparison to the population? This is what we will understand in this explainer.
Who has how much stake in Manipur?
Understand the geography and population of the north-eastern state of Manipur like this, 10 percent of the area of Manipur is valley while about 90 percent of the area is hilly. Mainly three communities live here. First- Meitei, second- Naga and third- Kuki. Among them are Naga and Kuki tribal communities. Whereas, Meiteis are non-tribal.
The population of Manipur is 38 lakh. Although the population of Meitei is 53 percent, 40 out of 60 assembly seats in the state are occupied by the Meitei community. The Kukis, who constitute 40 percent of the state’s population, live mostly in the hill districts. If we look at the representation of Kuki people in the state government, 10 MLAs including two cabinet ministers belong to the Kuki community.
What has been the history of the demand for Cookieland?
It was the year 1980s when the demand for a separate state for the people of the Kuki community started gaining momentum. People of Kuki-Zomi community who are a minority in Manipur. They formed a rebel group by the name of Kuki National Organization. After that the demand kept rising again and again that we should not live under the rule of Meitei people. In 2012, when it became clear that Telangana would be carved out of Andhra Pradesh and made a separate state, an organization called Kuki State Demand Committee (KSDC) announced a movement. The demand was for the same old Cookieland. Violent demonstrations, strikes, closure of highways, have now become common.
KSDC believed that the area of about 13 thousand square kilometers was theirs and it should be separated from Manipur. The total area of Manipur is 22 thousand square kilometers. In this way, KSDC’s claim was on 60 percent of the total land area of the state. Which includes districts like Churachandpur, Chandel, Tamenglong and Ukhrul. KSDC had also made it clear that their demand is not like that of the people of Naga community, they want a separate state but within the Constitution of India and here. Their demand is not for a separate nation.
When did the recent controversy start?
Violence between the Meitei and Kuki communities started in Manipur after May 4. The Meitei community demanded that they should also be given ST status i.e. tribe status. The argument behind this is that their population is more but their rights over resources and administration are not in that proportion. Manipur High Court also considered the demand of Meitei community as justified and recommended the state government to grant ST status.
Obviously, this was supposed to give rise to dissatisfaction between the Kuki and Naga communities, and it did. Especially the people of the Kuki community considered the court’s decision an attack on their rights. There was massive violence in which at least 187 people lost their lives. The Kuki-Jo population believes that the Biren Singh government of the state has given them step-motherly treatment and now they cannot live together like before. Therefore, either the districts where the Kuki population is high should be given the status of a separate state or they will run a parallel government in those districts.